Game of Thrones exploded in popularity when it came out and through it fantasy was given a really strong presence in popular culture. I would say its effect on popular culture is about as strong as the Lord of the Rings movies had on the popular culture at the time.
This also means that the source material for these shows received a great deal of attention and, by extension, fantasy books more broadly. Because of this, I see now to be an excellent time to address some of the stigmas that fantasy authors(and authors of other genre fiction) have within the literary community.
It may be a great deal of fun to show your peers in a writing class some writing with magic, dragons, and exciting heroes, but when the people with real clout see the same work, the genre fiction label is all they see. I am perfectly willing to admit that there is a decent amount of fantasy books that are nothing but repeated formulas of Lord of the Rings, there is plenty of quality material.
One of my favorite fantasy authors (Brandon Sanderson) applied to several top-of-the-line Creative Writing grad schools and was rejected by every one of them. Yet, a few years later, the same work he had submitted to the grad schools was published and well received.
As an aspiring fantasy author, the stigmas against genre fiction are going to become a real problem for me in the future. Unless I break from myself and write something different from what I actually want to write, then my odds of getting into a big name grad school are next to nothing.
Yet pressuring the literary community has only served to cut them off further. I don't want to leave this article off on a hopeless note, but fantasy authors have an incredibly difficult path already. Fantasy is itself a niche genre and to add on top of that the lack of acceptance within the broader community of authors is adding insult to injury.
Thank you for reading and go out and read some fantasy books, they're fantastic!